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The Seattle Seahawks drafted three offensive linemen last weekend in hopes of infusing some young talent and depth into a unit that struggled to find its footing until midseason last year.
Texas A&M’s Germain Ifedi was the highlight of the class for Seattle. The Seahawks selected Ifedi with the 31st overall selection to conclude the first round on Thursday night.
The Seahawks see Ifedi as a player capable of playing both tackle and guard on the right side of the offseason line. When he gets to Seattle for their rookie mini-camp this weekend, general manager John Schneider said he’ll begin in NFL career at right guard for the Seahawks.
“As of right now he’s going to line up at right guard and (J’Marcus) Webb will be our right tackle,” Schneider said Wednesday, in an interview with Mitch Levy on Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle. “That’s a pretty big right side right there. We’re going to put him at right guard and if he needs to play some tackle, he’ll play some tackle.”
Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll had initially send after making the pick that Ifedi would begin at right tackle. Offensive line coach Tom Cable said he believes Ifedi can be an “outstanding tackle.” But for now, he’s going to be a guard.
“He’s a monster of a man. He’s a great kid. He’s got a ton of length, a ton of power,” Schneider said of their thoughts on Ifedi. “They’re playing in that spread offense (at Texas A&M) so there’s some things he needs to clean up from a technique standpoint, but he’s such a hard worker and such an intelligent guy that we think that there’s no question he’ll be able to do that. Just a really, really tough-minded individual.”
Seattle’s line will look significantly different from the group that finished last season. Garry Gilliam has been moved from right tackle to left tackle to replace the departed Russell Okung. Ifedi and Webb slot in on the right side of the line to replace J.R. Sweezy and Gilliam. Third-round pick Rees Odhiambo from Boise State will compete with Justin Britt at left guard, and sixth-round pick Joey Hunt will battle Patrick Lewis at center.
As Washington cornerback Josh Norman prepares to face guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant twice per year, Norman explains in an item for The Players Tribune the mindset that often results in acrimony on the field.
It traces, for Norman, to having his bologna stolen by older brothers at a time when Norman was too young and small to do anything about it.
“Football isn’t unfair,” Norman says. “Life is what’s unfair. Getting your bologna taken is what’s unfair. Football is barbaric. It’s animalistic. It’s my will versus your will. It’s all those things. But it’s not unfair. That’s why I love it.”
He then used that mindset to explain the protracted, out-of-control, back and forth between Norman and Beckham from last December.
“When Odell and I went at one another last year, people got mad,” Norman said. “Imagine that. People who watch this sport every Sunday and say they love it actually pretended to be offended. They don’t see the beauty in it. They don’t see the truth.
“The guy lining up across from me, he knows the truth. There are a lot of people who watch this game, or who are paid to commentate on it, who might not understand the true reality. They might get offended. They might think we’re animals.”
That’s where Norman’s essay is inconsistent. He calls football “animalistic,” but then takes issue with those who thought Norman and Beckham were behaving like “animals.”
The broader flaw in Norman’s argument is that football routinely is played without over-the-top misbehavior from players who took their aggression well beyond the whistle or who engaged in clearly unnecessary acts during a play. If 99.5 percent of all players can do it, Norman and Beckham can, too.
“Odell and I, we know the truth,” Norman said. “Anybody who makes it to this level knows it. The truth is that on the football field, he’s trying to steal my bologna, and I’m trying to steal his.”
That’s fine, but the officials — and the league office — will be taking everyone’s bologna this season if folks can’t control their emotions and confine the exercise of ill will to actions necessary to the overriding objectives of the game. It’s clear that the NFL won’t stand for a repeat of last year’s outcome, and it’s likely that the officials and the powers-that-be at 345 Park Avenue will be paying close attention to everything that happens between Norman and Beckham in 2016, and beyond.
The Colts on Tuesday waived linebacker Eze Obiora.
Obiora had signed with the Colts in January. He had played two seasons with the Sioux Falls Storm of the IFL and was impressive enough there to earn an NFL shot. The Nigerian-born Obiora grew up in England and played two seasons of college football at Southern Illinois.
The transaction wire has been busy across the league following last week’s draft. The Colts on Monday announced that 21 undrafted free agents agreed to terms with the team.
The NFL’s drafted rookies visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame before attending their first pro training camp over the last eight years came from a suggestion made by Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin.
Now that the NFL has eliminated the annual rookie symposium in favor of events and seminars held at individual team facilities, the Hall of Fame visit has also been scrapped. Citing the same reasons that sparked the idea, Irvin told the Canton Repository he thinks the league is making a mistake in taking away what he considers to be a very valuable history lesson.
“I don’t like it,” Irvin said. “You’re asking young men to respect and appreciate the game, but how can they when a lot of them don’t play the game for the appreciation of the game or the history of the game? A lot of them play the game to escape their history, which is the ghetto.
“I originally thought about it as I watched the draft and saw all those kids crying and saying to their moms, ‘I’m going to take care of you.’ They are aligned with that. They know the history of their mom and how she sacrificed to get them there. They’re like, ‘I’m going to get you that house. I’m going to get you what you need now.’
“It’s no different here. If you get the (NFL) history and see the ones who gave you the opportunity to have this life, how can you not appreciate it? I think it’s important for athletes in the NFL or any sport to understand the gift they’ve been given.”
Under the most recent rookie symposium format, rookies were housed in a Cleveland suburb and visited the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Individual teams made arrangements to bring their rookies to Canton starting in 2008.
More than two months prior to the deadline for signing franchise-tagged players to long-term deals, the Bills and tackle Cordy Glenn converted his one-year franchise tender into a five-year contract.
Per a source with knowledge of the deal, Glenn receives $26.5 million fully guaranteed at signing, as part of a five-year, $65 million package. He’ll earn $19 million in the first year, and $30 million through year two.
The deal has another $9.5 million guaranteed for injury.
It’s the second highest full guarantee any offensive lineman has received, and it puts Glenn under contract with the Bills through 2020.
The NFL Players Association wanted more time to decide whether to file a petition for rehearing regarding the outcome of the federal appeal that reinstated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. The NFL opposed the request.
On Tuesday, the request was granted. As a result, the deadline has been extended from May 9 to May 23.
The union arguably didn’t need extra time to make a decision that, as a practical matter, could be made in a matter of minutes. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeking a rehearing before the full Second Circuit.
The subtext seems to be that the NFL suspects the union is delaying the volleyball game in the hopes that a final outcome will come as late as possible, potentially keeping Brady on the field for all of the 2016 season. Still, two extra weeks really won’t change much in the grand scheme of things — especially since the NFL needed four full months to complete the initial investigation into the alleged tampering with football air pressure.
Bills General Manager Doug Whaley said on Tuesday that the team was ready to get back to the negotiating table with several players they wanted to sign to contract extensions.
It didn’t take long for them to check off one of those boxes.
The agents for left tackle Cordy Glenn announced on Tuesday evening that their client has agreed to a five-year extension with the team. The Bills gave Glenn the franchise tag earlier this offseason — Glenn signed it shortly after — and had until July 15 to hammer out a multi-year deal.
Glenn was Buffalo’s second-round pick in the 2012 draft and he has started 57 straight games for the team. No financial details of the deal have come to light, but it’s a good bet that the Bills were able to lessen the $13.7 million cap hit they would have taken if Glenn played out the year under the tag.
Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula was released from a hospital Tuesday after receiving overnight treatment.
A statement released by the family said Shula, 86, was hospitalized due to fluid retention and sleep apnea and said the family “is looking for a speedy recovery.”
NFL Network confirmed that Shula was treated and released.
Shula is the NFL’s winningest coach. He won two Super Bowls with the Dolphins and guided them to a perfect record in 1972.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. His son, Mike, is the offensive coordinator of the Panthers.
The NFLPA sent a memo to players this week warning them to be cautious about eating meat in Mexico and China because some of it is contaminated by Clenbuterol, which is a banned substance under the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
It appears that a trip to Mexico by Texans tackle Duane Brown last year uncovered the issue. Dan Graziano and Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com report that Brown, who was suspended four games for a PED violation in 2010, tested positive last November after returning from a bye-week vacation with his wife. He faced a 10-game suspension as a repeat offender.
Brown appealed with the help of the NFLPA and receipts from meals showing he ate 10 burgers and two steaks while in Mexico. He was cleared in April of this year and his experience is one that the union would like other players to avoid.
The Texans and Raiders will be playing a game in Mexico City during the 2016 season. One would imagine that Brown will be laying off the beef during that visit.
The Dolphins won’t be the only NFL team approaching rookie minicamp differently this year.
They won’t even be the only NFL team in Florida approaching it differently this year. The Jaguars are joining them in altering the process to cut back on drills and other on-field work while devoting more time to meetings at what they’re calling a “rookie orientation.”
Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell says that he’d thought about different ways to handle rookie minicamp in the past and that the torn ACL that first-round pick Dante Fowler suffered on the first day of camp last year made it a more pressing issue.
“It’s never really made a lot of common sense to me,” Caldwell said, via the Associated Press. ”You always just crossed your fingers and hoped for the best. I think this gave us good reason to do it. Never did you think it would be something that would be season-ending, but even the little stuff. If a guy pulls a hamstring, then all of a sudden he spends the next six weeks rehabbing instead of getting better, stronger and in shape.”
The Broncos lost third-round tight end Jeff Heuerman to a torn ACL last year and coach Gary Kubiak recently called full-speed practices at minicamp for players who haven’t been on the field in some time “probably not the smartest thing to do.” Another serious injury or two in this year’s camps may have the Dolphins and Jaguars at the forefront of a trend around the league as it comes to handling the first NFL exposure for their rookie class.
Cave broke into the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2013 with the Browns. He’s spent time on the practice squads of the Lions, Redskins, Patriots and Browns. He was promoted to the active roster by the Lions last December but didn’t play in a game.
Pierce signed with the Lions after last year’s draft and spent the 2015 season on the practice squad. He played in the Senior Bowl in 2015 after a standout career at Kent State.
Similar moves are being made around the league as teams clear roster spots for draft picks and new undrafted free agent signings.
Wilson and Gordon signed with the Chiefs earlier in the offseason but were released as the Chiefs cleared roster space for draft picks and post-draft rookie signings.
Wilson signed a two-year, $4.85 million deal with San Diego in 2015 but was cut last December after making six starts. He’s played in 73 games, starting 27, and has five career interceptions and three career sacks. Wilson, a seventh-round pick in 2011, spent four years with the Dolphins before departing via free agency.
Gordon broke into the league as an undrafted rookie with the Patriots in 2014 and signed a futures contract with the Chiefs in January.
The Chiefs drafted three defensive backs — KeiVarae Russell, Eric Murray and D.J. White — last weekend, and in the sixth round selected outside linebacker Dadi Nicolas.
The most common response to the effort by Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford to get out of Philly after signing a two-year, $35 million contract has been to say that Bradford should simple embrace the opportunity to compete. Indeed, former NFL quarterback Brady Quinn (who was represented during his playing days by Bradford’s agent, Tom Condon) explained last week on PFT Live that Bradford simply isn’t accustomed to having to compete.
Condon has addressed the notion that Bradford should simply compete and, if successful, keep Carson Wentz on the bench. Condon explained on The Business of Sports with Andrew Brandt that the circumstances suggest that the deck is stacked in favor of Wentz.
“There’s not really a competition,” Condon said. “You’re holding the card until you’re replaced, and as far as the club is concerned, and I would guess the fans, the sooner, the better.”
Condon has a point. The last time the Eagles took a quarterback in round one, current coach Doug Pederson was the starting quarterback. He started nine games before yielding to then-rookie Donovan McNabb.
Rookie quarterbacks routinely are installed at the bottom of the depth chart, giving them a chance to accomplish something by working their way up the ladder — regardless of whether they objectively deserve to be elevated from No. 3 to No. 2 to, eventually, No. 1. The bigger the investment, the sooner the player ends up on the field.
“I know people say, ‘Well, why doesn’t he just compete and win the job?'” Condon said. “There is no real competition. If you’ve given up the draft choices [to trade up] and he’s the second pick in the draft, he’s playing. That’s all there is to it.
Condon reiterated that Bradford will continue to stay away in the hopes of having a chance to get to a team that wants him. Will Bradford offer to pay back any of his $11 million signing bonus to make that happen?
“I think I better hold off on any questions with regard to the cash,” Condon said.
Buried in that non-answer could be a message to the Eagles that perhaps Bradford would be willing to, for example, sacrifice all or part of the second installment of $5.5 million. (The first half already has been paid.)
Still, it’s one thing for the Eagles to eventually decide to move on from Bradford. It’s another for a different team to want him. Barring a season-ending injury to an entrenched starter, Bradford may not find another NFL team that is willing to give him the keys for, at a minimum, all of the 2016 season.
Asked about Rodgers on ESPN today, Houston acknowledged he’s a good player but said he doesn’t like him as a person and especially doesn’t like his attitude, exemplified by his trademark celebration of pretending to put a championship belt around his waist.
“He’s a little arrogant for me. He’s a little too arrogant,” Houston said. “He’s a cheesehead. I’m a Bear. He’s a cheesehead. But I have a lot of respect for his game, I will say that. He’s a great quarterback. As a player, I have a lot of respect for him but the whole championship belt thing kind of gets on my nerves.”
Houston might not be the best one to talk about the way other players celebrate, considering that he once suffered a season-ending knee injury while celebrating a sack late in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss. But Houston has taken shots at Rodgers before, most notably after the Bears beat the Packers on Thanksgiving, when Houston sacked Rodgers during the game and said afterward, “I really don’t like that guy.”
Rodgers may have just a little more motivation to unleash the championship belt when the Bears meet the Packers next, on October 20.
Washington has applied the franchise tag to quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins has signed it. It means that he’s under contract for 2016, at nearly $20 million.
The two sides have only until July 15 to sign Cousins to a deal that goes beyond 2016. During a Tuesday morning visit to PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, G.M. Scot McCloughan was asked whether there’s any reason to think the contract will be done before the deadline, given that this is a deadline-driven business.
“I can’t answer that. I don’t know for sure, but we would love to get it done,” McCloughan said. “We would love to get it done but you’re well aware of how the business works. He’s our leader on offense, he’s our quarterback. He won the [NFC] East for us last year, a 16-game quarterback, took us to the playoffs.
“But it takes two sides to come together and it is a big contract and it’s gonna be a long-term contract. The years, the money and the incentives, all that stuff comes into play. But it’s ongoing. I really believe, talking with Kirk and of course myself and our organization, we want to get a long-term deal done. He wants to be here, he sees what’s going on, the positive energy, and it’s a business. It takes time these long term deals, big deals like this.”
The deadline is important in situations like this because nobody wants to move close to a bottom-line position with time left to negotiate. Whoever does that ends up potentially getting squeezed off the bottom-line position later. So both sides keep it in neutral until there’s limited time remaining, and then they try to figure out if their bottom-line positions intersect.
Regardless of what Cousins wants and what Washington is willing to offer, he has $19.95 million in the bank for 2016. After 2016, Washington will have to decide between letting the market set his value or paying him $23.94 million. So unless Washington is offering $43.89 million over the first two years, Cousins arguably should let the process play itself out.
His recent comments seem to suggest that he’s willing to do just that. By saying that he doesn’t deserve a long-term deal if he doesn’t play well in 2016, Cousins is saying that he’s willing to bet on himself for a second straight season.
Last year, Cousins parlayed a $660,000 salary into nearly $20 million for one year. That’s an increase of more than 3,000 percent. So he’s familiar with going all in and winning big. This time around, he’s got a much, much larger bird in the hand.
For Washington, there’s significant risk in letting Cousins hit the open market. As Washington proved two weeks ago when signing cornerback Josh Norman, sometimes another team is willing to pay a guy who is the property another team a lot more than the other team is willing to pay him.